Nebraskan’s popcorn worthy of praise
A bag of popcorn and a good movie. Who could ask for more on a wind driven day in winter?
But it was one particular kind of popcorn I was looking for. I thought I had saved a bag of it for a special occasion. I couldn’t find it so I went on the Internet to try to find B.K. Heuermann’s hulless, microwaveable popcorn.
B.K. Heuermann’s popcorn is not just any popcorn. It has a story, which to my despair has come to an end. B.K. Heuermann told me so himself. I am getting ahead of myself.
Years ago — over a decade I am sure — I was traveling on business through Nebraska. On U.S. Highway 34, between Grand Island and Aurora, I passed a farm with a sign that read, “Heuermann’s popcorn.” It was a farm where popcorn grew. I found that interesting and filed the thought in the back of my mind.
I happened to stop overnight in Falls City at the Lied Center and wandered into the gift shop, and there on the counter was a package for sale of Heuermann’s hulless popcorn. It was, bar none, the best popcorn I had ever eaten. And, trust me, I’ve eaten a lot of popcorn in my day.
Off and on through the years, I have ordered and given as gifts boxes of Heuermann’s popcorn. So when I couldn’t find it this year, I was dismayed.
I called B.K. Heuermann and asked him about it. Seems he’s sold the company to Con Agra. He tells me they have their own spin and that’s it’s not the same as his original popcorn.
B.K. Heuermann is 84 years old, which is old enough to sell his company if he wants to. He began at age 17 as a hybrid seed corn salesman, which he did for 47 years.
When that company sold, he worked another ten years and in l984 asked himself what he was going to do when he retired. Well, he started developing popcorn — microwavable, hulless popcorn. In l997, the Nebraska Department of Economic Development invited QVC to Grand Island. Of 280 vendors, ten were chosen, one of which was B.K.H. In four minutes on QVC, 1,800 cases of popcorn were sold. The rest is history, sort of.
He went on to develop a mushroom popcorn seed that pops round and set up a world-wide distributorship in Holland, England, Italy, Russia, Dubai, South Africa and Mexico. Con Agra used it in their crunch and munch popcorn.
B.K. furnished the seed and they did the rest. Recently, due to new and expensive regulations, B.K. sold the business.
I’ve never met B.K. Heuermann but he’s on my bucket list. Come spring, I’m driving to Nebraska to a little town, off U.S. 34, to meet the farmer who went from seed corn to popcorn and beyond. I am sure there is more to his story.